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Is It Discriminatory to Ask an Employee About Intended Pregnancy?


While it is true that legal protections from discrimination in the workplace exist, there are certainly some employers who still violate them. That includes employer actions that involve pregnancy and pregnant employees. At the law firm of Michel | King , we offer advice to employees who believe they may have suffered discrimination at the hands of their employers. One question that clients often ask is whether it is appropriate for an employer to ask about intended pregnancies.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act was passed in 1978 to provide much-needed protection for female employees from discrimination on the basis of “pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition.” The PDA includes two primary provisions: one prohibiting pregnancy bias, as a way to discriminate against a female employee because of their sex; the other prohibiting employers from treating pregnant females different from other employees who perform the same work, with respect to leave, insurance, and other benefits.

Questioning employees about pregnancy

It may not be obvious to all employees but it is not appropriate for an employer to ask whether an employee is currently pregnant or whether she intends to become pregnant. An employer does not have a right to ask these questions. If you are asked any of these questions by your employer, you can discuss the situation with one of our employment discrimination attorneys. The same is true for job applicants. It is improper for a potential employer to ask your intentions with regard to parenthood and if they make a hiring decision based on your response, that can be discrimination.

Employees are not required to disclose a pregnancy

Some employees decide to give their employers notice of their pregnancy when they intend to take maternity leave. But, it is important to know that you are not required to disclose your pregnancy unless you are planning to take maternity leave. Some women work up until their due date, which is their right. If you intend to simply take vacation time then there is no need to disclose your pregnancy unless you choose to.

Requesting leave for pregnancy-related issues

It is important that, if you plan to take maternity leave or intermittent leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), you provide your employer with reasonable notice of your intended leave. Not every employee will be eligible for FMLA leave, but if you are you are allowed to take leave for a maximum of 12 weeks within a 12-month period. The leave must be based on family or medical reasons, which includes the birth of a child. Unless your employer’s policies state otherwise, FMLA leave is unpaid. In other words, your employer is not required to pay you under this federal law.

If you feel you have been the victim of discrimination or retaliation in the workplace, or if you have any other questions regarding your employment rights, please contact the experienced employment law attorneys at Michel | King . You can contact us either online or by calling us at (205) 265-1880. We are here to serve you!

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